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Wedding bells to ring for world leader who juggles motherhood and running country

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Image: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and partner Clarke Gayford
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses with Clarke Gayford and their daughter in June 2018. -
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Hannah Peters
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now engaged to her longtime partner Clarke Gayford, her spokesman said Friday.

Gayford, who hosts a TV fishing show, takes care of their 10-month-old daughter Neve Te Aroha, while Ardern, 38, runs the country.

Her pregnancy was seen by many as a symbol of progress for women in leadership roles. She is only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990.

Ardern was asked by the BBC while visiting London in January if she would consider asking Gayford, 41, to marry her or wait for him to propose.

"Absolutely, I'm a feminist, but I want to put him through the pain and torture of having to agonize about that question himself. That's letting him off the hook, absolutely not," she joked.

News of their engagement broke after journalists noticed Ardern wearing a ring at a public event on Friday.

Her spokesman Andrew Campbell confirmed she had been wearing the ring since Easter. He did not give details of the proposal.

The couple met about six years ago when Gayford went to complain to a lawmaker about proposed changes to security legislation.

He bumped into Ardern, they had coffee and started living together not long after.

Gayford's television show, "Fish of the Day," has been sold to 20 countries.

While Ardern was breastfeeding her infant daughter, the family traveled to New York for the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Ardern and Gayford divides their time between the New Zealand's capital of Wellington and Auckland, where they own a house in a suburb.